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Rain gear for the Olympics

Ok, so we are planning a trip to Olympic MNts mid Sept. Any advice for rain gear? Jacket, pants, boots? Cuban Fiber seems like the way to go...but sheesh, those jakcets are a lot of money. Should we spluge, or will something else suffce?. Any suggestions out there?

Some people like the hard shell rain coats, and others swear by ponchos, but I have also seen others who like to use an umbrella.

So -- much of your question depends on how long are you going to be out, which side of the Olympics you are doing, and of course, the general forecast of your trip. 

September can offer ridiculously beautiful blue bird days -- or that early fall storm...

Guess I didn't give you a really specific answer... but you might even want to practice with any or all of my suggestions to see which one works best for you...

I spent part of a September around Rainier and used a Mountain Hardware Exposure II.  It was a bit of overkill for weight, but I was comfortable in it and when the winds came up.  I hiked in shorts usually as I wasn't expecting a lot of rain, and shorts dry faster than do long pants.  I've carried Marmot Precip rain pants and never have used them.  I also wear 200 polartek (equivalent) under the parka when needed and around camp.  I'm not ready for Cuben Fiber yet. 

You could go with fabric boots/shoes as they will drain well and if given the chance dry faster than leather. I use heavy mountain boots as I find them more comfortable at the end of the day and use them as camp 'shoes'.  I have short gaiters to keep debris and water out of the tops.

I have been using a Stephenson Warmlte 2 for decades now. Love it even in the rain forests.  The light weight has more than amortized the heavy price over the years.  Its just over 2llbs fits in a space about the size of two wine bottles cork to punt and goes up in under 5 minutes from a full back pack. I also take my 3 person Stephenson as a solo in the winter.  It holds 5 in a pinch.

well, it looks like we will be entering on the Sol Duc trailhead and/or Dosewallips trailhead. We will be out there sept 14-23 or something close to that. So? I guess we will find out what works and what doesnt. We hike mostly in CA, not a lot of rain here as of late, so not all the equiped. Any suggestions helpful.

If you are concerned about the weather, take a rain tarp that you can put up in wet weather to stand up while under it.  It can be a simple 10x10 or smaller out of sylnylon ($$) with grommets in sides (corners, center) and grommet in the middle to put a pole through to put a trek pole or two lashed together on a rock/log to hold it up.  Can weigh only ounces. Protects while cooking/eating hanging out.  Might not need it.

If a lot of rain (probably not yet) you will be comfy just standing up near a tree in a hooded parka.  The tent is for lounging and sleeping, not living.

My go to place are the Sierra and couldn't be any different than the NW.  But you are going to have soo much fun on the trip even if the weather doesn't hold. 

Just plan on hiking in the drizzle to the next stop and have a change of dry clothes in a water proof bag.  Trying to dry clothes inside a tent will result in much of it condensing on walls.  Keep a chamois handy for mornings too.  Best to have good ventilation from unencumbered foot area to top part of tent.  Use body heat to create a draft to vent moisture.

Cover the pack when it drizzles with a large garbage bag - carry a few extra. If you poke a hole for the head, make dandy individual warming tents too.

Thanks for those suggestions! A rain tarp is a great idea. As long as we are flexible with our plans so that we can sit it out a bit, we will be ok. I hate being rushed to squeeze it all in. One more question for you though....we do have a single wall tent we love because it is so light, however condensation is a problem. Thinking of taking the double walled. Which leads to the question...I may sound ignorant, probably am, but I have no idea what you mean by "unecumbered foot area to top part of tent" and how to "use body heat to create a draft to vent moisture". Sounds like something that could benefit us though. Could you explain that a bit. thanks for your thoughts!

speacock said:

I spent part of a September around Rainier and used a Mountain Hardware Exposure II. 

 The Cascades and the Olympics are completely different animals. ONP is a rainforest. Cascades are not.  I would be prepared for far more moisture in the Olympics than at Rainier. I would not use a poncho simply because the moisture can be so inundating that I would fear it would not suffice. But that is me. I would not do anything less than a good hardy raincoat and pants, gaiters and waterproof boots. Be sure to have a pack cover and a fire starter and pack some tinder in drybags.

My hubby and I used his single wall tent on Memorial Day weekend which POURED on Sunday. Both Saturday and Sunday nights left us with moisture on the inside of his tent that was significant enough that we *might* have been in trouble if we needed our down bags on Monday night.

September in the ONP leaves you with the crapshoot of what the weather might hold.  I DO suggest using a double walled tent -just in case-...

Giftogab has some good points.  I spent three weeks (not in September) in the Olympics back in the day.  When it didn't rain it snowed.   We were relatively comfortable without the high tech stuff today.

Some single wall tents - especially the better designed (and $$) ones have mesh around the front (sometimes) and a larger opening near the base of the back of the tent that allows outside - supposedly drier and cooler - air in.  There is an 'exhaust' vent at the top or peak of the tent.  There is a flow of cool air at bottom or back of tent (so long as it is not stuffed full of sleeping bag parts and clothes and people) that is open and gets warmed inside the tent then escapes at top (warm air rises).  As the air warms it can carry more moisture out through the top of the chimney. That's the plan.  About the only warm thing in the tent is you (all).  I've heard from others that a protected tent candle will generate enough warmth to cause some part of the air in the tent to move upward.  I found that the candle also produces water moisture as it burns.  I ditched it because of the weight.

All single wall tents (such as the Stephensons) have some condensation- some more than others. If your clothes are wet the evaporation will condense on the cooler side walls and precipitate down on everybody.  In addition, every body exhales a pint or more of water vapor over night.  It has two places to go.  On the tent walls or hopefully up and out the vent. 

Plan on having to use a cloth to wipe down the walls, the floors or other places that puddle.  Not a good idea, generally to try to dry your clothes in the same tent you will be sleeping in.  If they got wet today, they are going to get wet the next day anyway, probably.  Plan on wool, fleece and other fabrics that will either shed water or not chill you if wet.  Ones that maintain some insulation value even if wet.  Cotton is not one of them.

If your sleeping bags get damp, hope for a break in the weather the next day so that you take some time to air them out, hopefully to dry them.  In the high altitudes of Colorado and Sierra, they dry relatively quickly.  Not so lucky often in the NW.

That rain tarp comes in handy in public camping areas.  With some planning and engineering you can sit around a picnic table with a pole holding up the center shedding raid.  What little water that comes in the through that grommet will hopefully run down the pole that is standing in a cup.  You can make some good friends by inviting neighbors over to be miserable under your rain shelter.  Doesn't work well in a wind driven rain, however.

Let us know how you make out and what worked or didn't work for you.

The Sol Duc is rainforest as Gift said. Whenever I have been out there I have always planned for rain. A poncho won't work if there is a front going through. Depending on how far up you go, snow won't likely be a problem. I generally go with a cagoule and gaiters for my rain gear. A tarp is also a good idea. Be prepared for great weather but also be prepared for several days of real rain. Remember the area you are going on the west side receives an average of 130 inches of rain a year. Compare that to Seattle which receives about 100 inches less. It can be beautiful. Royal Basin and the Needles are nice and the hike takes you through some magnificent rhodie forests.

thankyou Speacock for going into more detail. We have had better days than others with our Big Angus scout ul2 tent. We were not really sure what made the difference. Last month we were hiking in the Trinityy Alps, and we had mornings of puddles, and mornings with no issues at all. Didn't know if it was altitude, where we put our tent or what. The deer were very invasive, hauling off my hiking poles etc. so we were cramming a lot of out stuff in out tent. Maybe this was the issue. We even put our packs in under our feet. You all have given me some great suggestions. Sounds like I could spend a lot of money trying to be prepared, and also adding a lot of weight. Oh well....whatcha going to do. Better safe then sorry. Thanks! any other input always welcomed!

Here is a discussion from another Forum about alternatives and options if things don't work out for you on the planned trip.;f=633107219;t=9991171453

good info...thanks! We too will be looking for shuttle from airport to trailhead, and maybe from trailhead to trailhead, depending on what we end up doing...and then back to airport. I think I found someone, but not sure yet. That was addressed in the link you sent. any knowledge in this area?

Juli, depending on the time you have and the experience, the Bailey Range Traverse is one of the most spectacular high traverses anywhere because of its remoteness and diversity of eco systems. It allows you to experience the best that the Olympics has to offer, much more than other high traverses. It starts in a deep rainforest valleys and then continues through the alpine. There is some route finding and glacier travel. 

In SE Alaska and a lot of other places people swear by Helly Hansen rain gear. I like the cotton Filson tin cloth impregnated with wax to shed water and breathe.

I think it is a mistake to try to rank places on the West Side of the Cascades in terms of wetness. I have been on backpacking trips in the Cascades in July and August to lakes I have never seen because of the fog and rain. The higher elevations in particular are wet most of the time. Some sites on the east side of the Olympics use irrigation in summer. The PNW is wet, and can be really wet. At the U of WA, foresters often describe the forests on the west side as temperate rainforests. That is a generic term that is appropriate for the West Side of OR, WA, BC, and Alaska.

thanks Erich, I am looking inot the Bailey Range Traverse now.....

thanks Erich, looking into the Bailely Range Traverse now...

As ppine mentions the west side of the Olympics are temperate rainforest. The west coast of the PNW(to Alaska) is one of the last temperate rain forests on the planet. Yes, people on the east side of the Olympics use irrigation, but we have a unique climate in the NW. In Seattle, known for "wet weather" is considered temperate rainforest with a drought summer. We often have little no rain for August and September.

Ultimately, on the Sol Duc it may be wet, but really beautiful. Although Helly Hansen is good rain wear, and Filson is good, neither would be appropriate, IMO for hiking on the wet side.


"Not appropriate"??

Don't try to give that advice to people in Alaska or those that work outside for a living in the temperate rainforests of North America. See the Alaska Outdoors Forum for good discussions about rain gear in places that are really wet.

Speaking of wet, I just scored a used Wenonah Cascade yesterday. My brother picked it up in Roseburg.

ppine, I don't mean it is inappropriate for those who work in the woods inn the PNW. No self respecting fisherman would be caught dead in goretex or a variation of the same. But the needs are different. Juli and most here, do not need gear that they can work in day in and day out, setting choke, or long lining halibut. They want light weight gear that can get them through a week long hiking trip. I, as well, wouldn't recommend a pair of Lacrosse boots or a Currin & Greene or Buffalo caulked boots for a hiking trip.

The Cascade is a good white water tripping boat, similar to the Old Town Appy.

When will you and your brother be up for one of my northern trips? I promise the carries won't be too hard!



Nice recovery. Appropriateness is very personal. 

Thanks for the paddling invitation. No thanks. I only paddle on long trips with people that I have known a long time. Last week's trip included 5 people that I have known for 30 years or more. When we have great rivers in the lower 48 like the Grande Ronde, I see no reason to travel all the way to the North.

There are certainly great rivers in the lower 48 and I have enjoyed my trips on the Rogue, the John Day and others. But the chance to see the diversity of landscapes and travel on rarely traveled rivers keeps me going back. When I traveled the Finlay in 2011, it had only been descended three times prior to our trip. If you are ever in the PNW and itching to get out paddling, I can get you a solo boat to try on one of my day trips.

wow guys, gear gets personal! I do appreciate all the input for sure! thank you for taking the time. I have done so much research, i think I have gotten myself totally confused! aargghh! I looked up Cagoule....and only found it sold out of country. ? So, this is what I'm thinking. lmk if I'm crazy....

I have my hiking pants hiking shorts, waterproof hiking sandals, for stream crossing and wearing in rain to keep shoes dry...(feet wet, but dry shoes for later) or to wear if shoes get wet rain jacket (probably not the best one out there, bought at REI on sale awhile back, couple with a gorgeous garbage bag if needed solomon trail shoes gaitors (mine present ones are probably water resistant....should I get waterproof?) put a trash compacter bag inside my pack to keep things dry

I have no rain pants at this pnt....thinking of a kilt. ?

what do you all think...will I freeze walking in rain with sandals, and shorts? I am such a CA hiker, this is foreign territory for me. I guess I am thinking at least I will have dry clothes to change into. Dont mind being wet, if I can be dry later.

Do I need water proof gaitors? Should I invest in a better jacket? AND would a kilt be enough?

I get it, this is all opinions here, and thats awesome. I take it all into consideration. My goal, to have a great time, see some awesome beauty, get away from it all, and not be miserable doing it. Any and all input is great. I know you guys have more experience in this area than I.


As you can see there are many answers to your question. The PNW can be cold and wet even in summer. For one trip you could probably get by with some heavy long john bottoms with shorts over them and wool socks under your sandals. But you would be better off with rain pants, boots that can get wet, and maybe some gaiters. Do not, repeat not forget a pack cover in that country.

In September, on the wet side of the Olympics, ppine is correct. I would go with long poly bottoms, rain paints and rain jacket. Personally, I would go with lightweight goretex rain gear. I would take convertible pants of nylon, no cotton. I would take water shoes for wading and trekking poles. Sandals, unless they are the keen type that have good support and the toes are protected would not be my choice.

The cagoule discussion was on TS a couple of years ago. Some call a simple pull over waist length rain jacket an anorak or cagoule. For the real deal Campmor sells a coated version and Rivendell Mountain Works, makers of the Jensen pack, are now making a nice goretex cagoule. I just purchased one and am very happy with it.

If you do the Bailey Range Traverse, you will need rope, ice axe and probably crampons. This is proving to be a dry year, so it might be possible to do the BRT without the crampons and rope.


You can hike in a rain jacket and shorts, but will need rain pants or you'll get chilled whenever not performing physical exertion.  I like to bring an umbrella.  It allows one to uncover their head and open up their jacket somewhat, improving ventilation as well as hearing.  The umbrella is also handy when rummaging through your pack in the rain, or while entering/leaving a tent that allows rain in whenever the door is opened.  The only time I use single wall tents is snow camping; otherwise the condensation issue is too much for me to deal with.  I would also bring a tarp purposed as a dining fly.  Eight foot minimum any dimension; slightly larger for more than two people.  I hate being pent up in a tent.  Additionally using a stove in a tent is a very bad idea, so the dining fly actually comes in handy for that purpose too.  And you can also string a line under it to dry your clothes.


I would make a further recommendation. If there is an expected front when you come, hike one of the trails that still have shelter cabins. There are some nice ones up the Quinault and the Duckabush.

I sure hope we get a trip report after te trip!

been sick for 5 days! I don't know how people do giardia on the trail. Been reading how prevelant its been on PCT this year. This has put me down! Anyways....I will give you all an update on our trip. Looks like I need rain pants! I am really looking forward to it our time up there in WA. Now, first, I need to get better and get going on preparing food for a backpack trip here in CA....taking 8 people ( 4 kids and 4 adults). We are leaving in a week and half, up in the Sierras, for a week...that's a lot of bear canisters! A whole different trip with its own challenges.

Ed, aka Whomeworry, oh my goodness...what you had to say about yourself on your profile page is hilarious. I had to take a peak basically because of the size of your pack! HUGE! And, the fact that you mentioned your pack confirmed it. Good for you...if you can carry it. I am trying hard to not want to ere in the opposite direction by NOT taking something that I would regret on the trail, and be a risk to me by not having it, all for the sake of going lite. Learning that packs look different according to season and place.

Please forgive me, but I read these messages in horror.  The contributors have some really imaginative ideas...but I live here!  I have lived here most of my long life and I have hiked (not extensively) and have camped out on all sides of the Forest and Park.  Please erect a 10 X 12 ft. tarp over the area that you will call home. Do that first. Incline the tarp so that falling water will drain down to corners that are lower than your occupancy-circle.  Keep you outing simple. If you willfully camp out in rain, I do believe that you should apply as a participant in Naked and Afraid...and dehydrated, starving, hypothermic and stupid.  If you hiking group, Scouts or high-school kids, get soggy-wet as is the case of sleeping bags, wander back into town and run a roll of quarters through a clothes-dryer in a laundromat. Dry kids are happy kids. Then feed them an adequate hamburger, e.g., a Dairy Queen Flame Thrower, which will 'hold' them for hours.  Keep meals for overnight simple, easy-to-prepare, and one-pot; if you have a Scout Patrol, bring a larger pot with lid. Dutch Ovens, although wonderful to turn out tasty food, are for car-camping...very heavy!  If you have trained your kids properly, an entire rain-suit from Dry Ducks or Frogg Toggs, costs about $20 and is breatheable. This is not construction-weight gear, but careful wearers can get by cheaply. Please Keep it Simple yet Sufficient. If you need dry places during rainy weather, I know where to find these, too. Happy Campers and Hikers will go out again into the Wild Lands; unhappy, soaked, cold, starving kids may never hike again. Yes, I have seen this happen!

Thankyou Howard for your concern....somehow you got a wrong children on this trip. (that is a different trip altogether) Good tarp advice, and yes, frog togs sounds like a good idea to me.

Thankyou Howard for your concern....somehow you got a wrong children on this trip. (that is a different trip altogether) Good tarp advice, and yes, frog togs sounds like a good idea to me.

January 26, 2021
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